Video: Dash is UK's doggy long-jump champ

Tuesday, January 26, 2010
5:00 PM

A FLOPPY-eared Labrador from Suffolk is making a big splash in the latest craze gripping dog lovers across the nation.

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A FLOPPY-eared Labrador from Suffolk is making a big splash in the latest craze gripping dog lovers across the nation.

Dash, a five-year-old Labrador-pointer, is the current UK doggy long jump champion - a sport which sees pampered pooches competing against each other to launch themselves the furthest from a wooden platform above a pool.

Dash is now unbeaten in two years after smashing the UK record with an astonishing leap of 28ft - just one foot less than long jump world record holder Mike Powell's famous jump in 1991.

Dash's owner, Cathy Dunkerley, 35, of Exning Road, Newmarket, said: “He's the coolest dude of a dog and everyone in Newmarket knows him.

“I took him to Paws in the Park in Kent three years ago and watched the long jump competition.

“We were too late to enter but later in the day Dash had a go and the organisers were amazed.

“We went back the following year, smashed the record and Dash hasn't looked back since.”

Long jump for dogs has been popular in the USA for years and is often featured on TV.

The sport was brought to the UK by dog event organisers Dash 'n' Splash in 2005 and has grown rapidly since.

Kate Theobald, a Dash 'n' Splash events co-ordinator, said: “Dash has everything in his favour. Gun dogs seem to have the greatest ability and the mix of lab and pointer is clearly a winning blend.”

Dash's winning leap was no mean feat. He beat off every challenger at six Dash 'n' Splash contests last year, which attracted more than 700 dogs to each event.

Mrs Dunkerley, a horse trainer in Newmarket, said Dash was an extraordinary dog that would keep competing and getting better.

“He goes everywhere with me, never leaves my side and always goes on holiday wherever I go.

“I'm very very proud of him and can't wait to get him back out there and attempting to break his own record this summer,” she added.

Dog lovers who think their mutts can out jump Dash will get their chance this year at Dash 'n' Splash competitions across the south of England.

Older dogs can compete in the over 7s category while smaller dogs have their own class to jump in. The current small dog champ is a working cocker that managed a 20ft leap last year.

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The sport of dog jumping originates from the rough tough mutts that accompanied dockers in the ports and dockyards of America during the 19th and 20th centuries.

While waiting for ships to dock the workers would kill time by waging bets on whose dog could leap the furthest from the dock side into the water.

The sport has grown from its dock side days into a major sport for dog owners across the Atlantic with champion dogs even featuring on the David Letterman chat show.

If UK champion Dash is to compete with the best in America he'll need to beat current champion Callie, a three-year-old female labrador, who holds the world record with a leap of 30ft 10ins.




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